The following review was published in the July 2010 issue 69 edition of 'English Teaching professional' magazine;
English from England is an English language website for very young learners who do not have English as their first language. It gives practice in listening, repetition speaking and reading. There are also worksheets to encourage simple writing.
At our small, private English academy in Totana, Murcia, Spain. We seek to teach English in a fun and dynamic way to pupils aged from 3 to 73, with the majority being of infant and lower primary age.
Having read the reviews of English from England after BETT 2010, we decided to investigate further as it seemed to be a ‘product’ which would align itself nicely with what we are currently doing with our young learners.
The website has films of English children, who model basic English in a natural, domestic English setting. There are also interactive games which have been designed to encourage and stimulate a desire to learn English by providing opportunities to practise, rehearse and repeat the target language. Every session starts with a film demonstrating language being taught. The learner can simultaneously see the speaker and listen to the models and can then practise what has been taught by using the online listening, reading and writing exercises.
Essentially the structure of English from England fits in with our young learner curriculum and overall approach to the teaching and learning of English. We find that the structured materials are flexible and suitable for classroom use or for individual students – and they help learners become familiar and confident users of the language. They can be used as a stand-alone system as there are teacher’s notes, worksheets and other teaching resources or they can enhance and complement any existing work by adding a new dimension to teaching and learning.
Our classes are small (a maximum of five students) and when we study a unit in a class, the webpage is displayed via a projector. We also use a laptop on the table for the students to complete the interactive exercises. This is then supplemented by the worksheets, further oral work or whatever other resource matches the learning needs of the particular students.
Use of the website can also be set as homework as a follow-up to lessons in the class. Initial guidance from teachers or parents is needed but the children can eventually work independently and at their own pace. Each child then has control of his or her learning, and can practise as often as necessary to ensure personal progression through carefully graded grammatical and linguistic goals,
Many parents have said how pleased they are to see their children working this way at home. Given that we have so many young learners, we have tended to use this site with those whom we feel are able to use it in an independent way (currently these are children between the ages of 8 and 10). Each student receives a weekly message via our own website to guide them as to which Unit they need to review in line with their classroom lessons.
The opportunity to give the children more exposure to good material that they can use outside of the classroom to reinforce their lessons has been very important to us. Despite the wealth of material available these days, we were struggling to find a product that was simply, yet effectively, presented, and which did just what it said – no complicated menus to navigate, nor lots of advertising to avoid.
Each child has access to the Learning Zone via a password which was competitively priced for a fixed number of home users via the English from England team.
The students love seeing other young people on the videos. They have been fascinated by the houses and the school – particularly the uniforms – and we have actually used these units with older students to stimulate discussion. They seem to relate extremely well to the voices of younger speakers of English and are easily able to distinguish the sounds – for example between the full and contracted forms of verbs.
We would like to see more Units and more graded worksheets so we can develop themes with a common format. This would be less time consuming than trying to enhance the existing units and worksheets with supplementary materials.
Overall, we are very pleased with the website. It sits perfectly suited to those students who can deal with the written word and benefit from the support of video and sound to aid their comprehension. We don’t use it with very young pupils because the written elements would be beyond their natural development. Infact we ‘graduate’ the students to English from England, and they see it as a moment of triumph when they get the password!
AnnMarie Delaney, Totana, Spain